In order to fast-track trade within the African continent, and ensure that Ghana derives maximum benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area, ACFTA, the Trade and Industry Ministry, has constituted technical working groups to work on a seven cluster initiative.
The Minister, Alan Kyerematen, who inaugurated the groups, says the move is to ensure that Ghana derives maximum benefit from the agreement.
The Action Plan for Boosting Intra-Africa Trade, as endorsed by the AU Summit, contains seven major clusters, the implementation of whose programmes and activities is aimed at addressing the key constraints and challenges of intra-African trade and at significantly enhancing the size and benefits of the trade for the attainment of sustainable economic growth and development.
The seven cluster initiative, to be administered by the newly constituted technical working groups, include national trade policy, trade facilitation, enhancing productive capacity, trade related infrastructure, trade finance, trade information and factor market integration.
The technical groups have been cut out from various business associations such as the AGI, GNCCI and GPHA to ensure that they are roped into decisions made.
“All working groups are required to develop very specific programs of intervention in their technical working groups that will feed into the national action plan for the AfCFTA. The framework is only providing a market access opportunity for African countries that have ratified the agreement to take advantage of the African market. But various interventions are needed to be able to benefit from the AfCFTA, and by constituting these technical working groups, we are working towards identifying the specific proposals for recommendations in different thematic areas that will enable Ghana benefit and take advantage” he said.
Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, says the move by the Trade Ministry is a game-changer that will boost the country’s trade earnings.
“The agenda is to set up these committees that will help recommend to Ghana and for Ghana to come up with its action plan for boosting Intra-African trade. We must contribute to the ideas and way forward to ensure we benefit fully from it”, he stated.
Ghana’s National AfCFTA institutional structure
At the apex of the AfCFTA national implementation structures, an Inter-Ministerial Facilitation Committee (IMFC) has been constituted (by His Excellency the President) to provide strategic direction and coordinate support for the implementation of the AfCFTA in Ghana and for harnessing its benefits. The IMFC is chaired by the Minister of Trade and Industry.
Seven (7) Technical Working Groups, made up of senior officials nominated to represent the lead institutions will develop and support the implementation of the National Programme of Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT). A National BIAT Steering Committee made up of the heads of the Technical Working Groups, will oversee and monitor the work of the TWGs.
In order to effectively support the national structures in implementing their mandate, a National AfCFTA Coordinating Office will be established under the Ministry of Trade and Industry to act as a one-stop shop and national coordination hub. The one-stop shop will be staffed and operated in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ministry of National Security and Ministry of Finance.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a duty-free quota-free single market established by the AfCFTA Treaty, which came into force on 30th May, 2019, after the 22 countries including Ghana deposited instruments of ratification with the African Union Commission (AUC).
The AUC is responsible for operationalizing the AfCFTA, including establishing its Headquarters or Secretariat in Accra, by the March 2020 deadline declared by the African Union Heads of State and Government.
The Free Trade Area covers the entire African Continent made up of 55 Countries, with a total population of 1.2 billion and the combined GDP of USD 3 trillion.
The objective is to expand intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade within the African Continent in order to support economic transformation and job creation.
It is expected to boost intra-Africa trade by as much as USD 35 billion per year.